Garden Island became part of Australia’s naval history just 16 days after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, firstly as a ships’ garden. Its naval use further developed into a naval depot near the end of the 19th century, and ceased to be an island in 1945.
Many of the buildings are now over 100 years old, each having its own history, but rarely seen by the public unless through a Society tour. Each tour visits the buildings and details of their history is provided by our tour guides – each tour group is kept to minimum to ensure visitor involvement.
As almost all of Garden Island the Dockyard and the adjacent Fleet Base East is a secure Defence area tour groups are limited in number, requiring visitor passes and escorts – these being pre-arranged by the Society. As Garden Island is a working dockyard and base, there are limited disability facilities. No cameras or smoking is allowed in the secure area, and no visitors under the age of 12 years allowed. It is a walking tour that includes staircases and no seating areas.
Access to the tours is by public transport or the visitor’s tour bus. For public transport catch the 311 bus from the QVB in York Street to Garden Island main gate, or the train to Kings Cross Station and walk to Garden Island (15 mins). On arrival at the main gate proceed to Security and wait for your tour guide. There is one tour each Thursday, starting at 10.00 am or as arranged for bus groups. The cost is $20.00 per person, payable upon arrival.
The tours start with a video briefing into the Island’s history, and then divided into small groups, each accompanied by a knowledgeable guide – some ex-Navy, others who have worked on the island for many years.
Key info for Tour Organisers
Contact our tour coordinator as early as possible.
We’ll tell you all the things related to your tour, including dates, costs, travel arrangements, and tour preparation.
Tour party sizes
- Large Groups – are limited to a maximum of 40 persons.
- Individuals and Small Groups – are most welcome but we need to coordinate your booking with larger groups. Please call or e-mail us to discuss your booking.
When and how long
Tours are run on Thursday mornings and take about 60-90 minutes following an introductory briefing and video.
- Weather – Tours go ahead rain, hail or shine. Bring your own wet-weather gear.
- Mobility – There is a lot of walking involved and some stairs. Tour group members need to be relatively mobile.
- Sensible footwear – Sensible footwear is a must.
- Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and bottled water – The tour is mainly outdoors. Come prepared, even if the weather is overcast.
Please note: The tour is not open to children under 12 years of age.
If your tour group is travelling by coach, a Tour Guide will meet the coach at the main gate. Your coach cannot be used in the Dockyard. Coach parking is available.